decimate/destroy a lot

kansi

Senior Member
japanese
Barrick CEO says there's rising demand for gold as a 'self-funded insurance policy' in a global crisis
Gold, seen as a bellwether for economic uncertainty, has crossed the $1,700 mark for the first time in seven years, though it was trading around $1,689 on Wednesday. The commodity hit a high of $1,900 in 2011, but dropped back in 2013 to start a trough.
"You've seen a shift in the base of the gold price," Bristow said. "Added demand from China drove that initial gold price post-2005, as we came out of the hedging crisis. And then the mining industry itself added a whole lot of supply on the back of that rising gold price, and in fact in the process destroyed a lot of that value.

https://www.google.co.jp/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/science/2020/05/03/asian-murder-hornet/?outputType=amp
Scientists hope to hunt down ‘murder hornets’ before they decimate U.S. bees
As if 2020 weren’t terrifying enough, now we have to worry about ‘murder hornets.’
The world’s largest hornet — the size of a matchbox — is known for invading honeybee hives, decapitating all the bees in a matter of hours and carrying the mangled thoraxes back to feed their young.

It seems the one word verb "decimate" and "destroy a lot" have the same meaning. Is decimate used in formal contexts unlike "destroy a lot" can be both in an informal and formal context, which is the difference between the two?
 
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    See the usage note in Lexico (Decimate | Meaning of Decimate by Lexico):
    Historically, the meaning of the word decimate is ‘kill one in every ten of (a group of people)’. This sense has been more or less totally superseded by the later, more general sense ‘kill, destroy, or remove a large proportion of’, as in the virus has decimated the population. Some traditionalists argue that this is incorrect, but it is clear that it is now part of standard English
    Decimate doesn't sound especially formal to me.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    You can't decimate value. You can only decimate populations - such as Roman soldiers, people in the 1918 influenza pandemic, and bees.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    You can't decimate value. You can only decimate populations - such as Roman soldiers, people in the 1918 influenza pandemic, and bees.
    I see..what else we can decimate? We can say "Polluted water from a nuclear plant decimated waters in nearby seas."?(It's saying destroying a quality a lot.)
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    We can say "Polluted water from a nuclear plant decimated waters in nearby seas."
    You can ONLY decimate populations
    Who are "we"? I could not possibly say that - since when were waters a population? "Polluted water from a nuclear plant decimated all marine life in nearby seas" could be possible, but that indicates that some of each species survived.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Who are "we"? I could not possibly say that - since when were waters a population? "Polluted water from a nuclear plant decimated all marine life in nearby seas" could be possible, but that indicates that some of each species survived.
    Ah so saying "decimate some quality" is also wrong and we can only decimate populations.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    Where have you seen "decimate some quality"? In what context?
    Well I was just wondering if it's possible.

    What about these?
    What has been decimated in these contexts aren't populations.

    I paused my bills when the coronavirus decimated my income, but it wasn't exactly a smooth process
    When my freelance income disappeared in mid-March, I decided to pause many of my bill payments while I figured out my next financial steps.
    I paused my bills when the coronavirus decimated my income, but it wasn't exactly a smooth process

    Decimated hotel industry begs for more PPP funding with 8 out of 10 rooms empty
    The decimated hotel industry is begging for additional Paycheck Protection loan funding so hoteliers can stay open and preserve jobs.
    Decimated hotel industry begs for more PPP funding with 8 out of 10 rooms empty
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Ah so saying "decimate some quality" is also wrong and we can only decimate populations.
    As #2 explains, “wrong” is not a concept that is easy to apply to the word “decimate”. From a historical point of view, nearly all current occurrences of the word are “wrong”.

    If you are happy to apply “decimate” to killing more than 10% of a population, I suppose you should also be happy with decimating the industry, or the virus decimated his beauty.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    10% of a population,
    What about more than 10% of an income? When losing 10% of it?
    When one loses more than 10% of
    the income, it is called that an income has been decimated?
    I paused my bills when the coronavirus decimated my income, but it wasn't exactly a smooth process
    When my freelance income disappeared in mid-March, I decided to pause many of my bill payments while I figured out my next financial steps.
    I paused my bills when the coronavirus decimated my income, but it wasn't exactly a smooth process
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    You can only decimate things that can be quantified.
    The Latin word from which decimate comes means 'tenth.' The verb in Latin means to take a tenth part of something: it can apply to taxes (where the tax is a tenth of the whole) or to populations (where a tenth of the members of a mutiny is killed by the authorities).
    Nowadays, when it's used about a percentage of a whole, it usually refers to much more than one tenth. For example, the invasive hornets are worrisome because, I think, they could kill most of the bee population, not just ten percent of the bee population.
    The person whose income was decimated is using the term in its modern sense metaphorically (although they might not be conscious of it). It's as though his income consists of a large population of living dollars and a horrifying number of them have been killed.
     

    kansi

    Senior Member
    japanese
    You can only decimate things that can be quantified.
    The Latin word from which decimate comes means 'tenth.' The verb in Latin means to take a tenth part of something: it can apply to taxes (where the tax is a tenth of the whole) or to populations (where a tenth of the members of a mutiny is killed by the authorities).
    Nowadays, when it's used about a percentage of a whole, it usually refers to much more than one tenth. For example, the invasive hornets are worrisome because, I think, they could kill most of the bee population, not just ten percent of the bee population.
    The person whose income was decimated is using the term in its modern sense metaphorically (although they might not be conscious of it). It's as though his income consists of a large population of living dollars and a horrifying number of them have been killed.
    I see..decimate seems like to destroy a lot of it in the sense that it destroys a number of things consist of it. Is this sense the difference between destroy a lot and decimate?
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    Does this guideline reflect how the word “decimate” is used, or how it ought to be used?
    It probably depends on whether one imagines that the thing being decimated is made up of quantifiable stuff. Above I thought that a person's income might be decimated if one imagines it as many units of currency.
    I myself would say that the acreage of a forest is decimated (acres being quantifiable), but the forest is nearly destroyed if I am thinking of it as a unified ecosystem.
    People probably do use 'decimate' for things other than, say, a population of bees or a forest consisting of acres of land or populations of trees. But I don't recall ever seeing it used in a way where I couldn't see it as somehow involving the reduction in amount of some quantity. In other words, speakers might be fitting a hexadecagonal peg into a round hole, but at least it's not obviously a square peg.
     

    Roxxxannne

    Senior Member
    English (northeastern US)
    I see..decimate seems like to destroy a lot of it in the sense that it destroys a number of things consist of it. Is this sense the difference between destroy a lot and decimate?
    This is just my opinion, but I think 'decimate' has a narrower meaning than 'destroy,' and that 'decimate' has to do with destroying countable things.
     
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